BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: World: Africa
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Thursday, 3 January, 2002, 17:57 GMT
Osama baby craze hits Nigeria
Osama Bin Laden poster
Some see Osama Bin Laden as a hero
A Nigerian woman has fled home with her new-born baby because her husband decided to name their son Osama Bin Laden.

The unnamed woman, from Calabar in Cross River state, has decided to seek a divorce unless her husband changes his mind about their son's name, reports the Vanguard newspaper.

This comes as reports from mainly Muslim northern Nigeria say that there has been a massive increase in the number of baby boys called Osama - after Bin Laden.

In one hospital in Kano, where there were celebrations after the 11 September attacks, seven out of 10 babies are said to be being given the name Osama.

The Calabar woman is a Christian and her husband is a Muslim.

But the BBC's Sola Odunfa in Lagos says that religion has little to do with this marital discord - it has more to do with Nigerian traditional beliefs in the influence a name has over a person's character.

No ceremony

The woman said: "Osama Bin Laden is a criminal with an inclination towards shedding innocent blood."

She fears her son will take after him if he bears Bin Laden's name.

My wife gave birth to our third child on 15 September and I named him Osama

Sadiq Ahmed

Her husband agrees that names are important but sees different qualities in Osama Bin Laden.

He said the man accused of masterminding the suicide attacks is "a hero who taught Americans the lesson of their lives."

As far as he is concerned, his son's name is Osama Bin Laden, even though he was denied the opportunity to perform a formal naming ceremony.

Our correspondent says that in Nigeria, parents give considerable thought to what name to give their children.

'Osama season'

The name reflects either the circumstances of the baby's birth or the values not only of the parents but also the extended family.

That is why in the case of the Calabar couple, the wife would deny her son a father and her husband is willing to lose his family rather than give in to the other.

Soldier on patrol in Kano
Religious clashes flared in Kano after the 11 September attacks

In Kano, one hospital worker said there was currently "a season of Osama babies".

"Osama Bin Laden is my hero," said 36-year-old Sadiq Ahmed, father of a baby Osama.

"My wife gave birth to our third child on 15 September and I named him Osama in honour of Osama Bin Laden who has proved to the world that only Allah is invincible, by exposing America to shame despite its claim of being the strongest nation on earth."

See also:

21 Dec 01 | Africa
Nigeria road trip: Kano
23 Nov 01 | Africa
Nigeria's Emir opposes Bin Laden
21 Jun 00 | Africa
Analysis: Sharia takes hold
21 Jun 00 | Africa
The many faces of Sharia
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Africa stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Africa stories